The House passes AHCA reform bill.

May 16, 2017 (0) comment

On May 4th, 2017, the Republican controlled House passed the revised AHCA by a narrow margin of 217-213.  20 republicans did not support the bill and there was no defectors from the Democrat side to support the the health care bill.  Had 2 more Republicans voted “no” the bill would not have passed the House.  Although the bill still has to pass the senate, everyone throughout the country is gravely concerned about the perceived return of health insurance to it’s pre ACA days.  More importantly the return of high health insurance premiums for those with pre-existing illnesses.

How will the AHCA affect my health insurance?

The first thing to mention is that the bill still has to pass the Senate. 

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who is a moderate Republican, voiced her view of how the bill will be adjusted in order to pass the senate,” the Senate is starting from Scratch.  We’re going to draft our bill, and I’m convinced we will take the time to do it right.”  However, the bill, in it’s current version, has caused quiet an uproar. 

Here is how the revised AHCA bill looks and how it could possibly affect your individual health insurance plan:

The first thing to remember is that the AHCA does not take anyone’s health insurance away.  The wrinkle that allows the possibility for insurance to change for high risk individials is the ability of states to apply for a waiver to drop certain Obamacare reforms that protect those with pre-existing conditions. 

Two main protections removed by AHCA (if your state decides to remove it):

  • Benefits insurers must cover in their policies
  • Protecting those with pre-existing conditions from higher premiums

Applying for the waiver will allow states to establish a high risk pool for those who are deemed high risk.  By removing those with high risk conditions from the market place, the individual and group markets will be able to lower premiums.  Great for healthy individuals and groups, bad for individuals with pre-existing conditions.  The main issue with the High Risk Pools is the costs and past performance. 

In the original version of the AHCA, $130 billion dollars was going to be given to states, over a 10 years time frame, to help establish high risk health pools.  In the version passed on the 4th of May, an additional $8 billion would be added to that fund over a 5 year time frame.  Unfortunately, that may not be enough to properly fund the high risk health pools.  An analysis by Emily Gee and Topher Spiro at the liberal Center for American Progress believe that the pools would need $327 billion over 10 years.  The AHCA would fall $189 billion short of successfully funding the high risk pools for the states.  What is more concerning for many individuals who may need to get insurance through those pools is the historic performance of High Risk pools during the transition to the ACA in 2012.

How did High Risk Pools perform during the Obamacare transition?

Performance relied on the funding that each state received before, and during the transition, to the ACA.  States that had adequate funding and affordable pricing saw high risk pools perform well.  The states that were underfunded, and not able to attain affordable pricing, saw their pools struggle.  High Risk Pools have a track record of success.  Their success’ will be measured on the ability of the AHCA to fund the pools adequately and for the proper amount of time.  To fund or not to fund, that is the question.

Will the AHCA affect my group health insurance plan through my employer?

The AHCA eliminates the ACA requirement that employers offer their employees health insurance. Many believe that this will have little to no affect on employee’s health insurance.  Most employers already offer their employees benefits packages to help themselves attract and retain top talent: link

Does the AHCA eliminate the Cadillac tax?

No.  It merely postpones it until 2026.  However, the AHCA will still need to find it’s funding from other sources.  Another tax may take it’s place.

How does the AHCA affect HSA’s?

HSA’s will be a direction many republicans would like to see individuals go.  Under the new house plan, individuals would be able to contribute $6,550 into an HSA.  In 2016, an individual could only contribute $3,350.  Families could contribute as much as $13,100 compared to 2016’s contribution limit of $6,500.  Starting December 31st, 2017, these changes would take place.

There is still a big hurdle in the way of AHCA, the Senate.  Although no date has been set on the final vote through the Senate, we will be sure to update you as the bill continues to morph and change.

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